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Geographers use a variety of proxies to infer changes to the environment. Researchers associated with the Garrett Herbarium are using multiple lines of inquiry to reconstruct the climatic history of Range Creek Canyon.
Over time, sediments are deposited in wetlands and along stream channels by various sedimentary processes. Sediment exposures along Range Creek provide the opportunity to study different depositional units and collect samples for pollen and charcoal analysis. These analyses can generate information on past vegetation, climate, and fire regimes for the area. So far, data from the stratigraphic profiles suggest that over a meter and a half of alluvium has accumulated on the flood plain surrounding Range Creek since AD 1300. This finding means that any Fremont features in the canyon bottom would be deeply buried and would not be apparent in surface surveys.
In a wet meadow or bog, organic sediments are being continuously produced and deposited over time. Incorporated in these deposits are other materials such as pollen and charcoal from the surrounding environment which are preserved in the wet environment. Along Range Creek is Cherry Meadows, a spring fed wet meadow that remains moist throughout the year. As part of a masters thesis and a field school research project, sediment cores have been collected from this location to reconstruct the vegetative and fire history of the Cherry Meadows area. Preliminary data suggest that it is likely that the Fremont were regularly burning the site for agriculture, fuel management, and/or to encourage desirable wild resources.
Pack Rat Middens
In June, 2008 the Range Creek Research Project installed a permanent, commercial-grade weather station in Range Creek Canyon. The weather station in Range Creek was purchased with a generous grant from the Browning Foundation. The station was assembled and calibrated by Meteorological Solutions, Salt Lake City. The station continuously records wind speed and direction, temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, solar radiation, and precipitation. It accomplishes this using a series of solar and battery powered sensors supported on a 10’ steel tripod and a separate precipitation gauge.
- Wind speed and direction data is provided by an R. M. Young Model 05103-L wind monitor sensor.
- Temperature and relative humidity are measured by a Vaisala HMP50 temperature and relative humidity probe.
- Barometric pressure is monitored by a Vaisala CS106 barometric pressure sensor.
- Solar radiation variation is measured by a LiCor 200X pyranometer sensor.
- Precipitation is monitored by a ETI Noah II total precipitation gauge.